And in the same way that the moon and the stars are celestial companions, marketing automation platforms and customer relationship management (CRM) systems are a match made in B2B Heaven. Unfortunately, many companies still haven’t combined these two powerful tools, despite the fact that doing so helps align marketing and sales departments in so many ways.
In fact, according to research we conducted with London Research earlier this year, only 57% of businesses have integrated a marketing automation platform with a CRM (1). And while that number has grown significantly over the past several years, it’s still not nearly where we would expect it to be at this point in the digital transformation.
The Benefits of Integrating Your CRM System with Your Marketing Automation Platform
The digital revolution has transformed the way we think about sales and marketing. Most notably, it’s changed the way we think about sales and marketing as operating independently of one another.
Once upon a time in a galaxy not so far away, sales and marketing rarely overlapped (and were actually pretty firmly disconnected). Marketing gathered leads and then passed those leads to sales. Sales worked those leads and hopefully turned them into new customers and additional revenue. Meanwhile, marketing complained that sales wasn’t doing enough to close their leads while sales complained that marketing wasn’t passing them the right kind of leads. Naturally, this led to a lot of bickering and finger-pointing — sometimes behind the scenes, sometimes front and center, always resulting in resentment.
Now, of course, this still happens. But at organizations that have integrated their marketing automation software with their CRM system, it happens far less often.
Passing Better Leads to Sales
With the visibility and analytics we have at our disposal in the digital age, there’s no excuse for marketers to be passing disinterested or low-intent leads to sales. You should be following lead scoring best practices as they relate to your business model, and only the most qualified leads should be sent to sales. But if your MarTech stack isn’t integrated, it can be difficult to tell good leads from poor leads.
The best way to collect good leads is by using marketing automation to attract prospects and set them on a comfortable customer journey. (In fact, companies that use marketing automation experience an average 451% increase in marketing-qualified leads) (2). And the best way to pass good leads to sales is by using marketing automation to engage with and nurture those leads so they’re primed to have more meaningful discussions about potentially making a purchasing decision.
All of this means less menial and manual labor for both sales and marketers and empowers those departments to collaborate together to focus on creative strategies for converting and closing only the strongest leads.
Improved Marketing Performance and Sales Success
The key to better engagement, increased leads, and improved customer retention is building strong, trusting relationships between your organization and your prospects and clients. Integrating your CRM system with a marketing automation platform helps you achieve this by providing a tool for better interactions and conversations, shortening the sales cycle along the way.
By understanding which touchpoints along the customer journey are having the most impact on your target audience segments, you’re able to provide them with the content they clearly want and then have direct discussions around their pain points and how you can help solve those issues. Not only that, but by gaining more granular visibility into the buyer journey, you eliminate the risk of alienating potential customers by having repeat or redundant conversations.
By creating a seamless integration between your CRM and marketing automation platform, you’re able to automate dozens of processes that previously required a lot of manual labor to maintain. Once integrated, you can be sure your data is more organized, easier to track, and faster to analyze and report on.
And since these processes are now rules-based, your marketing and sales teams are also dealing with more accurate information, eliminating the need for constant clean up and the potential for major SNAFUs with new prospects and current customers. You won’t have to deal with the embarrassment of sending a current customer irrelevant content or inundating the inbox of a lead already talking to a member of your sales team.
More importantly, you have an accurate view of how your marketing and sales efforts are performing as a whole. Now your data is more consistent, easier to leverage, and easier to report to key stakeholders and team members.
More User Adoption of Your MarTech Stack
MarTech software is extremely effective, but it doesn’t always come cheap. And when these tools aren’t optimized to be as simple, usable, and productive as possible, you might run into a lack of user adoption. Obviously, this is both a waste of the software and a waste of company resources (headcount and budget). But by integrating your CRM system with your marketing automation platform, you enhance user adoption because the stewards of these tools, your employees, are inherently held more accountable for their application.
If the people who are supposed to be using these software platforms on a daily basis are unable to report intelligently about their progress and have productive discussions with their colleagues in their departments and throughout the business, it will become crystal clear that they aren’t using the tools at their disposal — or at least that they’re not using them in the right way. At which point, you can use this as an opportunity for enhanced training sessions, reconsider the ease of use and efficacy of your CRM and marketing automation integration, or re-evaluate your employee’s standing with your organization.
Leverage Your Integrated MarTech Stack to Improve the Customer Journey
So far, we’ve talked a lot about how integrating your CRM system with your marketing automation platform can help you and your organization meet and exceed your goals while also aligning sales and marketing into one unified team. But we haven’t talked about the biggest winner in this whole dynamic: your prospects and customers!
All of this technology helps us steer the customer journey, but ultimately, it’s the people on the other side of the keyboard who are driving the engine, so it’s important to keep them top of mind in all of your sales and marketing efforts. You want good customers who are excited about your products and services, willing to advocate for them, and are in this partnership for the long haul.
Obviously, the most important aspect of any business relationship between an organization and its customers is the product or service itself. If you’re not providing or producing quality things that are useful and effective, your business isn’t going to last very long. With that in mind, the next important component of effective companies is your ability to provide the right content and resources that motivate prospects to interact with your brand and help existing customers to get the most out of what you offer. Again, integrating your CRM system and marketing automation platform holds the answers because it allows you to connect all of the breadcrumbs in each individual customer’s unique journey.
In order to get the most out of your CRM/marketing automation integration and trigger relevant actions at opportune moments, you need to get to know your customers. Ultimately, your customer will decide what materials they engage with (and how), so you need to leverage your MarTech stack to help them along the way. This means collecting the user data based on their demographics, industry, and interests so that you can place the right marketing collateral in front of them at the right time with the right messaging.
This is one area in which sales and marketing can work together closely to get it right and help your business stand out from the competition. More and better communication between these two departments will help you consolidate and interpret the relevant data to drive more personalized experiences from the initial touchpoint along micro-conversions and through the closing, cross-selling, and up-selling processes. And as you begin to understand how your audience groupings tend to interact with your brand, services, and offerings, you can analyze larger data sets to continue to improve optimizing the customer journey in the future.
Adopt an Open MarTech Ecosystem for More Flexible Marketing and Better Sales
The new trend in MarTech integration seems to be the merging of CRM systems and marketing automation platforms as a bundled package, but this model creates a million potential inefficiencies, not the least of which is that it robs you of having a flexible and dynamic marketing and technology stack.
At Act-On, we’re choosing to let our customers be the masters of their own journey by providing access to more native CRM systems integrations (including Salesforce, Microsoft Dynamics, and SugarCRM, as well as our latest partnership with Pipeliner CRM) than any other marketing automation platform. If you’re interested in learning more about how Act-On seamlessly integrates with numerous CRMs and other software tools, please reach out today to speak with one of our product specialists.
If you’re already using a CRM system but haven’t decided if you want to add a marketing automation platform to your stack, you should check out the eBook below, “Got CRM? Why You Need Marketing Automation, Too.” It’s got a ton of useful information and could totally change the way your organization markets its products and services in the future!
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